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Fake ID's Foil Brady Checks - GAO
Part 1: Agents buy guns in 5 states using PC-generated IDs
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• 2: Brady Law Basics
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"Another school shooting in the U.S. when are you going to learn to severely limit the ownership of guns?"

"The U.S. had private gun-ownership for almost two centuries before the school shootings began. What we need to ask ourselves is what has changed radically in our society and look for the possible answers there."

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Natl. Rifle Association

A team of Congressional special agents was able to bypass Brady Act background checks and successfully purchase firearms using fake IDs in all five states where they tried, according to a March 19, 2001 General Accounting Office.

The investigation was conducted by the General Accounting Office at the request of U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform.

Agents purchased firearms from licensed dealers in Virginia, West Virginia, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona from late October 2000 through February 2001. All five states conform to minimum requirements of the Brady Act, relying on instant background checks, but do not require fingerprinting or waiting periods for firearms purchases. The gun stores and pawnshops visited were selected at random from the yellow pages of local telephone directories. The investigation was conducted in accordance with investigative standards established by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency.

State-level background checks required in Virginia and Arizona also failed to catch the fake IDs.

Based on their investigation, GAO concluded that in the five states, "the instant background check does not positively identify purchasers of firearms," and that it "cannot ensure that the prospective purchaser is not a felon."

The Brady background check determines only whether a gun buyer has criminal record but does not verify the existence of the name and identification used by the buyer.

According to the report, "the instant background check does not positively identify purchasers of firearms. Rather, it is a negative check that cannot ensure that the prospective purchaser is not a felon or other prohibited person whose receipt and possession of a firearm would be unlawful."

Investigators created the counterfeit state driver's licenses with fictitious names, dates of birth, and/or social security numbers using "off-the-shelf software, a scanner, a laminator, and a color laser printer."

The fake IDs were used in the five states to purchase rifles, handguns, semiautomatic weapons, ammunition clips and hollow-point bullets.

Gun control opponents have argued since its passage in 1994, that flaws in the Brady Act prevent it from being an effective deterrent to illegal possession and use of firearms. 

The full GAO report -- Firearms: Purchased From Federal Firearm Licensees Using Bogus Identification GAO-01-427, March 19, 2001 -- can be viewed online by clicking here. (The free Adobe .pdf file viewer is required. Get it here.)

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